If you’re in the early stages of planning your wedding and you already know you want to save your flowers…then YAY, YOU! Honestly, I love you already! (If you’re further along in your planning process, I love you too! We still have LOTS to talk about!)
If you want to be sure to choose wedding blooms that will press well, the good news is, MOST flowers press beautifully. Phew!
There IS a SHORT list of flowers to avoid if you want to preserve your bouquet as a pressed botanical collage…
For the most part, you’ll want to avoid tropicals (there’s a BIG, BEAUTIFUL exception that we’ll talk about in a minute). Anthurium, orchids, lilies, plumeria, and succulents, in general, do not press well. The reason? Because they’re native to hotter climates, they’ve adapted to hold a lot of moisture and excess moisture makes it very difficult to preserve flowers. If you choose calla lilies or orchids in dark colors, they MIGHT press well, but it requires some hoping and praying and sometimes leads to disappointment. The big, beautiful exception to the tropical troublemakers? Protea. Appearing in many sizes and shapes, they were named for the Greek god, Proteus, who was able to change his appearance at will. Protea is native to South Africa, where local lore says they represent change and hope. How fitting to feature these majestic, and unexpected beauties in a wedding bouquet! They also bring a unique texture and stately structure to a pressed botanical collage.
Did you know that when working on a botanical collage, I take the flowers in your bouquet apart, press all the pieces individually and then put them back together petal by petal? By pressing the pieces separately and reconstructing the flowers, I’m able to preserve the essence of their shape, sculpting them in a way that they nearly burst out of the frame. (Thank you, art school, for teaching me to approach my work with patience and precision!)
Although I’m not technically a botanist, I’m an enthusiastic student and ardent admirer of Mother Nature and consider it my responsibility to honor her perfect work. I’ve spent years of trial and error perfecting my process of preserving and celebrating protea! They are challenging, but also incredibly satisfying to work with.
White flowers are fine to press — peonies, roses, ranunculus, hydrangea—but keep in mind that white flowers don’t dry to white. These flowers will turn a winter white, tanning in the presses.
Want to know the secret to picking flowers that will press beautifully?
Color. The richer and deeper, the better! Sometimes the colors in flowers become even deeper during the pressing process—especially dahlias, ranunculus and peonies.
Another example of how beautiful protea can be in a wedding bouquet.
From fresh to pressed to a piece of art. See how the white flowers have “tanned” slightly? I love the impermanence of the white anemones in contrast to the solid presence of the protea. The pitcher plants are such a great addition here!
The woody varieties of hydrangeas, like those from the coastal regions of Cape Cod and New Jersey hold their color especially well too.
Blue hydrangeas keep their color beautifully from fresh to pressed to collage.
As you try to decide which flowers to feature in your wedding, it’s fun to do a deep dive into the floral world and get lost in the possibilities. Since all of the details can all get a little head-swimmy, I’d like to share Flora-Ly’s Guide to Flowers that Press Nicely with you. It will remind you of your options if you think you might want to preserve the memories or your special day with a botanical collage. So, keep it on hand and share it with your flower designer, your wedding planner or your trusted helpers. Good luck and happy planning!